Brian Laws picked up his first win in charge of the Owls on home soil in fine style as goals from Glenn Whelan, Madjid Bougherra and Steve Maclean saw off promotion-hopefuls West Brom at Hillsborough on Tuesday night.
New Baggies boss Tony Mowbray, who is yet to win away from home with his new team, included a host of former Premiership stars including Kevin Phillips, Jason Koumas, Curtis Davies, Nigel Quashie and Jonathan Greening – but it didn’t stop a new-look Owls team sweeping them aside in a relatively easy encounter.
Laws welcomed Chris Brunt back in to the starting line-up after the winger missed the Cardiff match through suspension while Glenn Whelan came in for the ill Yoann Folly in the centre of midfield.
And it was Whelan who opened the scoring for Wednesday after just 11 minutes when he was positioned well to head home an inch-perfect Brunt cross by Russell Hoult in the Baggies goal and send the 21,000 strong Owls crowd in to raptures.
Wednesday had made the much brighter start in the opening exchanges and fans were in Wednesday wonderland minutes later as Madjid Bougherra doubled the Owls’ advantage on 15 minutes by heading home a Kenny Lunt free-kick.
Glenn Whelan almost doubled his tally for the evening with an attempted lob over Hoult from long-range while the on-loan winger Wayne Andrews made an impressive start and forced Hoult into a low save with a fine effort from the edge of the box.
The first-half was all Wednesday, with Deon Burton and Marcus Tudgay working tirelessly in the Owls attack and defending from the front to allow the Baggies no space or time on the ball – which regularly resulted in the visitors giving the ball away cheaply.
This wasn’t the Baggies side that many had predicted would turn up, or even make a swift return to the Premiership, and it certainly wasn’t the Wednesday of old that may well have sat back on their early advantage and wait for the visitors to come at them and make a game of it.
Wednesday were hungry for victory and they kept pushing forward in search of more goals – and they weren’t far off.
Loanee Wayne Andrews continually provided the West Brom defence problems out wide on the right with his sharpness looking twice as good as it did at the weekend while Kenny Lunt was pulling the strings in the middle of the park and snubbing out any attack the Baggies could muster.
The only chance from the visitor’s was a very tame Kevin Phillips effort from the edge of the box that was causing Mark Crossley no problems at all.
The only sour point for Wednesday in an otherwise perfect first half was the injury to left-back John Hills who left the field to be replaced by youngster Tommy Spurr in the early stages of the half.
Half-Time: Wednesday 2-0 West Brom
Baggies boss Tony Mowbray must have had strong words for his side after they were booed off the field by their own supporters at the interval, but it was Wednesday who continued in the same vein as they left off when Deon Burton saw his goal-bound effort deflected wide by Paul McShane.
But the visitors began to find their feet – mainly due to the fact that they were finding the feet of key man Jason Koumas who looked the only player who was capable of breaking down the stubborn Owls defence.
Diomansy Kamara had a good chance to reduce the deficit but his close-range header went agonisingly wide of goal while Kevin Phillips was unable to steer Jonathan Greening’s effort in to the back of the net.
Despite West Brom’s increased possession play after the break it was Wednesday who continued to look more dangerous on the attack and the game could have been wrapped up as Deon Burton broke the Baggies defence and gave Chris Brunt the chance to make it three – but he only managed to send it wide with his weaker right foot.
Burton O’Brien and Steve Maclean were introduced in place of Wayne Andrews and Deon Burton respectively and it was Maclean who created a great chance for Marcus Tudgay after breaking free of the Baggies defence but the Owls’ top scorer blasted it over the bar when it would have been easier to play in the unmarked Chris Brunt.
And the missed chance made the Owls sweat in the final minutes of the match as a superb Jason Koumas effort got the visitors back in to the game.
But any doubt of a Wednesday victory was put to bed in the third minute of added on time as Steve Maclean netted from the spot to secure all three points after being felled in the Baggies box.
Full-Time: Wednesday 3-1 West Brom
Wednesday: Crossley, Simek, Bougherra, Bullen, Hills (Spurr 28), Andrews (O’Brien 77), Whelan, Lunt, Brunt, Tudgay, Burton (MacLean 82). Subs Not Used: Adamson, Coughlan.
West Brom: Hoult, Albrechtsen, Davies, Perry (McShane 46), Robinson, Kamara, Quashie, Carter (Gera 71), Greening, Phillips, Koumas. Subs Not Used: Steele, Watson, Ellington.
Brian Laws told BBC Sport:
‘It was a great night and an important win for us. It’s been a great test for us having the two home games against Cardiff and West Brom.
‘We knew this was always going to be a tough test because West Brom are possible contenders for promotion to the Premiership.
‘What epitomised the performance was our hard work and willingness to work for each other and close people down. That was most evident in the first half and that won us the game.
‘We didn’t allow West Brom to get their heads up and pick any passes out.’
Tony Mowbray told BBC Sport:
‘I will take responsibility for this result.
‘I wouldn’t question my footballers’ desire. This group of players are determined to put it right and I’ve got broad enough shoulders to take responsibility – blame is the wrong word – for these results.
‘Football is a confidence game and when you’ve got a group of footballers whose main strength is their passing – when that starts to ebb away, it becomes difficult.’